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Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Jacks R Better Bear Mtn Bridge Hammock > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

Jacks 'R' Better
Bear Mountain Bridge

Initial Report: January 7, 2009
Field Report: February 15, 2009
Long Term Report: April 22, 2009

Biographical Information
Name: Chuck Carnes
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 175 lbs (79 kg)
E-mail Address: ctcarnes AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country: Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Backpacking Background
I love the outdoors – I’ve spent time camping in the outdoors since I was born, and have been actively hiking and backpacking since then. I consider myself a lightweight hiker, usually carrying 20 – 30 pounds (11-13 kg) for hikes up to a week in length. I hike at an easy pace, averaging 2 mph (3 kph). I am a one-man tent camper for now. I like to carry a single trekking pole when I hike to help relieve stress to my legs and knees. I like to get out on the trail as often as I can.

I N I T I A L    R E P O R T
January 7, 2009
Manufacturer: Jacks 'R' Better
Model: Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock
Color: Black
Size: Accommodates person up to 6 ft 3 in (1.9 m)
Weight Capacity: 225 lbs. (102 kg)
Year of manufacture: 2008

Listed Weight:  2 lbs 5 oz (1.05 kg) 
Actual Weight: 2 lbs 4 oz (1.02 kg) (includes hammock, bug net, fasteners and spreader bars)

MSRP: $199.95 (USD)

The Jacks 'R' Better Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock (here on out stated as BMBH) is made with 70D rip stop nylon material. The main webbing that suspends the hammock from the tree is made with high strength polypropylene which is 1 in (2.5 cm) wide and runs through a tri-glide fastener (if opted to use), around the tree and back through the tri-glide fastener. The fixed end connects to a welded steel ring. From this steel ring, two .75 in (1.9 cm) webbing straps go out to the corners of the hammock and connect to another steel ring that the hammock material is attached to. This design keeps the wicking action of the webbing from connecting to the hammock material.

A 1 in (2.5 cm) diameter aluminum spreader bar is placed between the two rings at each end of the hammock. The bars have notched, rubber ends that fit onto the rings. These bars are only used for keeping the hammock open and are not to be used to pull up on. Around the entire perimeter edge of the hammock is a continuous omni-tape fastener that works in conjunction with the bug netting that is provided. The bug netting is placed over the opening of the hammock and the edges are pressed to the omni-tape for a complete seal around the perimeter. The omni-tape resembles the hook and loop type fastener. 

Along with the hammock, a small personal pocket is provided that can also be attached to the edge of the hammock by the same omni-tape type fastener. This pocket can be placed anywhere around the perimeter of the hammock. On the bottom of the hammock is a pad sleeve that will accommodate most standard 26 in (cm) wide pads. For the bottom insulation, each corner has a loop attachment that can be used to suspend any of the standard 78 in x 48 in (198 cm x 122 cm) JRB quilts.

I was excited to test the Jacks 'R' Better BMBH. I have been hammocking for about two years now but I have never tried this style of hammock. My first thought was 'how would it feel to sleep in a tub style hammock?'. I was a little intimidated with it at first and of course, as most men do, I tried putting it up before I read the instructions. I think what got me was the tri-glide fasteners. I put the webbing through the fastener, around the tree, but I feed it through the back of the fastener instead of the front. This made for difficulties in trying to adjust the height of the hammock. After fiddling and fussing with it I took it down and re-did it with the webbing running in front of the fastener. This is a very important point in this process, it makes it much easier to adjust. I placed the spreader bars between the rings to open up the hammock and it was ready to try out. I am always slow when getting into hammocks because I always have a vision of the hammock or straps failing and I fall straight to the ground on my back. I eased into the hammock, hearing some stretching of the fabric and webbing, and laid back. I was very impressed at how my whole body was almost perfectly horizontal. I had plenty of head and foot room but what concerns me is the high edges of the hammock. I truly felt as if I were in a skinny tub. I turned on my side and my face was very close to the side. This may prove to be okay once I am in a sleeping bag but at first impression, it felt a little weird and a little claustrophobic.  

I tried it as a chair by simply hanging my feet over the edge of the hammock, width wise, and this was very comfortable. I can see me using it as this when not wanting to fully lie down and taking a rest. Taking the hammock down was much easier than putting it up, now that I know which way the tri-glides go. I un-lashed one end from the tree and started feeding into the stuff sack. This kept the hammock off of the ground and from getting it dirty. Once I reached the far end, I un-lashed it from the tree there, stuffed the rest in the sack and cinched it up. The stuff sack size is great, a little too big, but still smaller than most packed shelters. The poles are about 17 in (43 cm) when put together so they can either be broken down in half or left full length and can be packed separately on the outside of a pack. 

Overall I am very pleased with the BMBH. Like I said before, I'm not used to this style of hammock but I can tell already that I will have fun sleeping in it. I am curious to see how an underquilt will work with it and possibly a tarp over the top. These can be purchased separately from Jacks 'R' Better. The pad sleeve is a great feature of the hammock and very interesting to me also. I may not have to have a quilt if I can get the right pad to work in cold weather. 

F I E L D    R E P O R T
February 15, 2009
I took the Jacks 'R' Better BMBH on a two night trip to Paris Mountain. This was a very close walk up site that I stayed at for two nights with my son and a few other people. The temperatures at night was around 35 F to 40 F (1 C to 4 C ) with not breeze or rain. The elevation was 1,050 ft (320 m) according to my altimeter.

Although the camp site was close I still packed the hammock in my pack as if I were going on a long backpacking trip. I packed in a 3800 cu. in. (62 L) backpack and the hammock fit perfect along with other items. After getting to the site, setting up the hammock was the first thing I did. It went much smoother this time since I knew how to set it up and which way the tri-glides were supposed to be positioned. Everything set up very easily and I had the hammock set up in under 2 minutes.

I kept the bug attachment off until it was time to go to bed. By leaving the bug net off I was able to use the hammock as a chair to sit in while relaxing around camp. I still get nervous when first sitting in the hammock as it creeks and pops occasionally, but it seems very well built and I know it's just adjusting itself to my weight and all. It's nice not to have to sit on the ground when making dinner or just relaxing. I set the hammock up close enough to the ground so that I can tend to my stove and meal while sitting in the hammock.

At night I attach the bug netting from the inside which is pretty simple but with it being fully closed by the hook and loop attachment I have a feeling that I may not get it completely sealed. It's not a big issue during the colder months but when the mosquitoes come out, I may need to pay closer attention to this and make sure I seal it completely.

At first I was a little concerned about how deep the hammock was and how it was going to feel while I slept and thought it might feel like sleeping in a bathtub or something. I have to say that it does feel a little strange when I lay on my side because I can sense the hammock wall right in front of my face. It's a little different than my other hammock that I am used to, it lays out a little bit flatter. I do however like the feel of lying straight out. This hammock gives the true feeling of lying flat as you would on the ground. I have to say that waking up in the morning with a feeling of a full nights rest is great. I didn't have to use a sleeping pad under the hammock so that saved the room from having to carry one of those. I did carry the underquilt for the hammock that hangs below and surrounds the underneath of the hammock. This is like having and sleeping bag underneath the hammock without it being compressed so the user gets full loft and full insulation.

Overall so far I am happy with the BMBH. With only two nights in the hammock I am starting to get used to the way it feels and how it reacts to my body movement. With the hammock not having any type of tie down on the sides as some other types of hammocks, it does tend to sway a good bit when entering and exiting the hammock. I think this is something I can get used to and it's not a concern that will keep me from using it. I look forward to more nights in the BMBH as the weather gets a little warmer.

L O N G   T E R M    R E P O R T
April 22, 2009

Unfortunately, the two trips that I was supposed to go on with the hammock and quilt got canceled due to weather.

I have a few trips planned for the spring and summer and will amend this report after those trips are logged.
This concludes this test series.
Check back in June or July for an amended report
Thank you Jacks 'R' Better and for this opportunity.

Read more reviews of Jacks R Better gear
Read more gear reviews by Chuck Carnes

Reviews > Shelters > Hammocks > Jacks R Better Bear Mtn Bridge Hammock > Test Report by Chuck Carnes

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